'Family's law' claim on holiday hell

A SOUTH Tyneside family have launched a High Court claim which could top £1m after suffering a holiday from hell.

Stephen and Leanne Coldwell claim their holiday to the all-inclusive Sarigerme Holiday Village in Dalaman, Turkey, in 2009 was ruined when they came down with salmonella and other gastro intestinal diseases.

The family, from Bisley Drive, South Shields, and their children, Hollie, 10, and Briony, seven, are now among 107 claimants who have issued a writ at London's High Court to sue First Choice Holidays And Flights.

The holidaymakers say they were struck down with tummy bugs, including salmonella and cryptosporidium, after eating under-cooked food and using a swimming pool contaminated with faeces.

Andrew Morton, head of travel litigation at Manchester law firm, Pannone LLP, who is acting on behalf of the Coldwells, said: "Unless we are able to agree a settlement for all these clients, their cases will proceed to trial on a date to be set by the courts."

The writ says the claimants were given lukewarm food which should have been hot, an under-cooked barbecue, and uncovered meals infested with flies and wasps.

Food was allowed to stand on the buffet for long periods, hot was mixed with lukewarm food, chicken was served pink in the middle, and uneaten items were reused at the end of each day, they claim.

Staff are accused of failing to clear away vomit from a restaurant, and drinks are said to have been served in dirty cups. The writ claims that staff were not properly trained in hygiene.

A spokesman for First Choice told the Gazette today they hope to resolve the issue "amicably".

He added: "First Choice would like to take this opportunity to assure all its customers that we closely audit all the resorts to which we operate, including the Holiday Village Turkey, to ensure that health, hygiene and comfort levels are maintained.

"Reports of sickness in 2010 were minimal; in particular, out of the 46,000 customers who have stayed there this year, only 0.42 per cent have reported minor ailments such as a mild stomach upset.

"This figure is extremely low, and has been substantiated by the Health Protection Agency, who have confirmed that they have received no reports of infection at the property this year. The Holiday Village Turkey continues to be extremely popular with our guests.

"In the last year alone, 90 per cent of guests rated the accommodation as good or excellent. We are confident that those customers due to travel in the future will enjoy the excellent levels of quality and standards they would expect."